Megan Duckett lets a baby gibbon named
Elizabeth inspect her hair while the primate is in quarantine in
Phuket, Thailand. Duckett, a Waukesha native, extended a trip to
Thailand so that she could work with a group that assists the
WAUKESHA - When Waukesha native Megan Duckett graduated from the
University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006, she decided to take some time to
travel before she entered the "real world."
Duckett, 23, decided to visit southeast Asia for a couple of months to
teach English, though she soon found a way to use her zoology degree that
turned her planned short trip into a 15-month excursion.
"I more or less didnít know what to expect before I left,"
Duckett said. "But really, I was just excited to be in a new culture
that is so far removed from someone with a western mind set."
Duckett worked with the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Phuket,
Thailand, to help stop the widespread destruction of the gibbon primate
and its habitat. A sub-ape, baby gibbons are threatened by the destruction
of their rain forest habitat and from poachers who nab them for the
illegal animal trade, often to participate in pictures with tourists.
Duckett worked for eight hours per day, six days a week during the
span, performing health checks rehabilitating gibbon habitats and helping
the primates expand their territory. Just to get to the habitats, Duckett
had to hike two hours into the rain forestís wild and treacherous
"I have a passion for conservation of endangered species and it
was very fascinated with them," she said. "And it was really
cool that what I learn at school I could use in a real world
Resort owners can make more than the average Thai personís monthly
salary in one night with the animal attraction, according to the GRP.
Poachers kill roughly nine adult gibbons for every baby they obtain.
The project is run by the Wildlife Animal Rescue Foundation of
Thailand. Founded in 1992, WARF has run numerous programs dedicated to
preserving natural habitats and native species throughout that country.
Ampika Korcharernkit, volunteer coordinator with the WARF, got to know
Duckett very well during her 15-month tenure. While observing Duckettís
diligence to her work, Korcharernkit was able to see the passion for
conservation the she has.
"Megan was a valuable member of our team and has made a
significant contribution to our cause," Korcharernkit said in an
e-mailed statement. "She has well proved herself to be a fast learner
and hard worker."
Duckett said her passion for conservation is stronger than ever and she
now plans on going to graduate school to further her education in zoology.
And she said she would even like to go abroad again for work similar to
what she did with the gibbons near Phuket.
"I was more homesick leaving Thailand than I was going
there," she said. "I always knew that someday Iíd be coming
back to the states, but I donít know when Iíll get to go to Thailand
Joe Petrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org